Office of the Chief Rabbi

Celebrate Brilliant Female Speakers on Shabbat Neshama

Building on the momentum created by the hugely successful Neshama Festival, a landmark Torah learning event for women that took place last year, the Office of the Chief Rabbi is launching ‘Shabbat Neshama’ to be delivered in synagogues across the UK.

Shabbat Neshama will put accomplished female educators and synagogue members centre stage over the Shabbat of 18th-19th January, when they will choose from one of a variety of ways to teach Torah. This could take the form of a D’var Torah, given after Friday night davening or at the conclusion of davening on Shabbat morning, a speech at a communal meal, a presentation at a Friday night oneg or as a scholar-in-residence for the whole weekend.

Communities are encouraged to avail of the talent within their own ranks in the first instance, be that a community member or the Rebbetzen, but ultimately it remains up to each shul to decide how this initiative can work best for them and their members. Many synagogues have already signed up to take part, with communities including St John’s Wood, Birmingham Central, Woodford Forest, Magen Avot, Edgware, Stanmore and others getting in touch to share their plans for this special Shabbat.

Shabbat Neshama is taking place on Shabbat Shira, when Parshat Beshalach is read, which tells the story of Miriam’s song after the splitting of the Red Sea and the Song of Deborah is sung in the Haftarah. This Shabbat is often linked to and used to celebrate women in Judaism.

We would love to hear your plans for Shabbat Neshama, and are on hand to answer your questions. Please email michelle@chiefrabbi.org in either regard.